As the City of Victoria continues to process applications under its new rules designed to limit the number of storefront marijuana sellers, some dispensary owners who have been denied their rezoning bids say they will continue to stay open and face fines until they’re forced to close their doors.
Leaf Compassion Society owner Kyle Cheyne operates several marijuana dispensaries on Vancouver Island. He says he is still “trying wrap [his] mind around” the city’s decision to deny his application for his store at 950 Yates Street, but so far the store remains open despite visits from city bylaw officers.
“We’ve been fined twice,” he said. “We’ve been fined once approximately a week after we got denied a rezoning, then they came back a second time, I think that was a week or so after.
So, it’s been about a week and a half without getting fined.”
Cheyne’s store is one of seven marijuana sellers who have had their rezoning applications denied since the city approved its regulatory framework for marijuana storefronts in July 2016. Four other storefronts cancelled their applications.
All told, the city says it has received 37 rezoning applications. So far just six have been approved, and four of those retailers have also been granted business licences, while 20 businesses are still waiting for a decision.
Councillor Marianne Alto says the city isn’t turning a blind eye to its bylaws being ignored, and may soon step up enforcement efforts.
“If an applicant is denied their rezoning application, then they are instructed immediately to cease operations,” said city councillor Marianne Alto.
“There is a short period of time when they are allowed to get their affairs in order, but very quickly after that, the city will start issuing fines and at a certain point, the fines become, obviously, not effective, and so then we have an option to go through the court system.”